Thursday, January 7

Simple things

"So the angel explained that it was the following message of the LORD to Zerubbabel: I am the LORD All-Powerful. So don't depend on your own power or strength, but on my Spirit. Zerubbabel, that mountain in front of you will be leveled to the ground. Then you will bring out the temple's most important stone and shout, "God has been very kind." The LORD spoke to me again and said: Zerubbabel laid the foundation for the temple, and he will complete it. Then everyone will know that you were sent by me, the LORD All-Powerful. Those who have made fun of this day of small beginnings will celebrate when they see Zerubbabel holding this important stone. Those seven lamps represent my eyes--the eyes of the LORD--and they see everything on this earth." (Zechariah 4:6-10 CEV)


Albert Barnes writes, "The day of small things is especially God's day, whose strength is made perfect in weakness; who raised Joseph from the prison, David from the sheepfold, Daniel from slavery, and converted the world by fishermen and tent makers — having Himself first become the Carpenter."

I will never forget the first outreach event I was blessed to work with as part of the 'gang' from Mosaic A2, a Habitat for Humanity renovation for a single father of four children. They had to reroute the pipes in the upstairs bathroom and I was the one who got to repair the cut made in the floor so that the vanity could be replaced. Because it was an HfH build, we reused the material that was cut out to fix the hole. A small piece of wood, cut out, doesn't usually fit right back in to the hole from whence it came…..Murphy's Law or something like that. Though it was being covered by the vanity, I wanted it to be perfect so that this father and his children, if ever they had to remove the vanity, they would see a good repair to the flooring.

A small thing, for sure, in the scheme of building a house. Nothing that would affect the structural integrity of the building or would even possibly ever be noticed in the years this family will make that house their home. But as I shaped and measured the wood to accommodate the pipes, I was fully focused on it….as if it was the single most important thing in the whole world. It is the small things that we do that define the bigger things that we shape and grow in the epic tale that is our story……and it is those small things within our story that combine with the Lord's greater tale of the redemption of man and the ultimate expression of His glory.

I am a simple man and I love the small details.

We can gaze at a sunset upon the water or set over a mountain top and not see the various physics that have taken place to make that happen. We neither worry about the location of the sun, the passage of the light nor even the formation of that body of water or solidness of that mountain. We see the beautiful brush of the Artist's hand making bold and marvelous strokes across the canvas of the sky and our hearts drink in its beauty like a thirsty desert traveler.

We reach out to others, doing simple things: a ride to somewhere that they need to go, a visit in the hospital after an illness, a hug when life's tragedies hit another hard or a word of kindness that brightens a day…even if only for a moment. It is the simple things that lead to larger, but it is the simple things that need to be done before the largest of expressions of love can be done.

Yes, giving someone a ride somewhere might not inconvenience us too much or cooking a meal to deliver to a homebound recovering patient in the larger scheme of substance for them probably doesn't matter much. The hug might be a natural extension of our love and companionship between friends and family and more of a traditional way to greet. The ebb and flow of the oceans are rhythmic in their motion and background noise as we sit upon the beach.

But the smaller things lead to or support the larger movement of life beneath its waves, or the expression in the sky of a Creator's handiwork and love.

A simple carpenter married an insignificant woman; together they found themselves in a stable in Bethlehem gazing down upon the face of God in the form of a baby boy. A baby boy who would one day hang upon a Cross of wood and pain for the sake of humanity because of the simplicity of love.

A simple shepherd boy would stand before the giant Goliath and fell him with a simple riverbed stone. He would be known throughout the ages as a man after God's own heart and from his line would come that baby boy.

A righteous man is taken into captivity and serves as if he's still free……He would be in the right place, with the right authority to keep Israel alive through a famine.

A woman, beautiful and timid, marries a King. She would be in the right place at the right time to prevent the designs set against her people to wipe them from the face of the earth through the schemes of an evil man.

A widow gives the most she can give as a tithe….pennies…..and the largeness of her heart's sacrifice is recorded throughout time as an example of small, simple things that speak of the larger parts of the tale we journey in.

Someone calls a friend who is feeling down and stops them with simple encouragement from taking those pills….they are restored and become the impus for several lives to be saved through their counseling sessions.

It is the simple things in life that connect us to each other and tells us that at least in one person's eyes we have value. From there, the value our Heavenly Father holds for us….that jealous love….is realized and another testimony, another transformation is reached.

It is the simple things that makes heroes and heroines… is the simple refusal to relax our morals on any ground, any issue or for even ourselves that make us stand like trees deeply rooted in God's love and it is those trees that become clinging points for those blown to and fro in the storms of this life. Lives get saved, by the simplest of things.

Coming back home last night from Berean Bible Church, who has been blessed with a new pastor, my son looked at me shyly and said, "Dad, I prayed tonight that God would bless us with the ability to get our own house. I did it with the group……..did I do right?" It isn't because he hasn't ever prayed or that I've hammered him for asking God for things. Our family serves, often to provide those things we need ourselves for others….because we know how important are…….

The simple things….

If you know my son, you know of his 'impairment'….he gets excited and talks too fast and the complexity of sentences is hard for him to form and carry. Conversations aren't his strongest points. Simplisticity is best, direct and to the point. For him to speak in a group of his peers is a major effort for him to be understood….and yet he knows in the company of others who are faithful followers of Christ like him, there is the power of answered prayers under the agreement of the body. He just didn't want to be selfish, asking for the needs of the family…….when he knows that there are others worse off than we are, who don't have the blessings we have.

It is the simple things like my son's faith that get me up in the morning and power through the endless job sites looking, filing resume after resume and praying continuously for God's direction…..for he watches me for the simple things….

The simple things……..

prayer, praise, fellowship and worship.

These things lead to the bigger things, those moments when God walks upon in the lives of the faithful and MOVES mountains impossibly and brings about the redemption of His children by the undeniable examples of His grace, His love and His mercy.

You may not think that bible lying on the desk at work, that you read in your spare moments, is ever recognized by others until the day a co-worker walks up to you, tears in their eyes and says, "I know you're a godly man and a Christian. Would you pray for my grandmother? She's not doing well and I'm so scared…." You may not think that helping hand to a person in line behind you, dropping 20.00 dollars on their bill for groceries, does anything….until you hear their sobs of surprise that now they can get some gas for their car…..and maybe make it a little further down the road to recovery for their family.

You may not think playing a game of gin rummy with a homeless person in a shelter, listening to the stories of mile-high snows from the elderly at a nursing home or volunteering to be a coach for a special Olympic softball team means anything……

"What others overlook, Jesus takes hold of and then uses to do extraordinary things." James Ryle writes in his devotional Rylisms. "….. That's why He took hold of you. And that, my friend, is no small thing!"

Remember, with a little faith you can move mountains……….

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